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Girls tennis roundup

By BRANT JAMES, WAYNE GRUMET, BOB PUTNAM, CAREY FREEMAN, FRANK PASTOR, JOHN SCHWARB, RODNEY PAGE, PETE YOUNG, SCOTT PURKS, MIKE READLING, Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 18, 2001


Wildcat qualifies for state again

SPRING HILL -- Cristina Lucin earned another trip to the state tournament in singles and doubles Tuesday, and this time, she promises she's going.

The Wesley Chapel junior, who has qualified for state the past three seasons, skipped the tournament last year to play in a tournament in New York. But after winning the Class 2A, District 6 No. 1 singles title and the No. 1 doubles title with Paula Clausnitzer, she guaranteed her attendance.

"I'll be there," she said while laughing. "My game was on today. I just wanted to go out and play tennis. We were having fun out there."

Lucin (18-0) beat Central's Jen Ales 6-1, 6-0, and she and Clausnitzer beat Ales and Shelane Etchison 6-3, 6-3 for their second title together. The Central duo will play another day, however.

Central got singles titles from Jane McDonald (No. 2) and Etchison (No. 4) to win its second consecutive title with 16 points, outdistancing Hernando by five points. The Bears advance to the Region 3 final Friday at Lecanto. -- BRANT JAMES

4A-5: Hurricanes outlast Cowboys

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Palm Harbor U. and Gaither owned the courts Tuesday, placing six players in the finals and leaving two spots for the district's other three teams. Palm Harbor won four matches to Gaither's three to win the district title 18-15.

Gaither did leave with wins in No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, earning state berths for Brianna Williams and Liz Rodgers.

Williams beat Palm Harbor's Sarah Buchanan 6-3, 6-1 to win the singles crown. Williams then combined with Rodgers to beat Buchanan and Huldah Dayton 6-3, 6-3.

Rodgers also beat Dayton to win in No. 2 singles.

Palm Harbor dominated in the lower singles brackets. Sara Fida, McKenzie Gerlach and Anjali Shetty won third, fourth and fifth singles. -- WAYNE GRUMET

Cowboy commits

Gaither's Liz Rodgers accepted a scholarship to play at the University of North Florida. Rodgers, who advanced to the state No. 1 singles semifinals last season, is undefeated in the No. 2 spot this year. -- TIMES STAFF

3A-9: Cougars still dominant

EAST LAKE -- Countryside, which snapped Seminole's 148-match win streak and won the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title during the regular season, continued its roll in the post-season by dominating the district tournament.

The Cougars swept the seven singles and doubles matches and scored 21 points to distance themselves from runner-up East Lake (13 points).

On Friday, Countryside hosts Clearwater in the regionals at the McMullen Tennis Complex. For the Cougars, it's a chance to avenge their only loss of the season.

Jennifer Dent, Evangelina Soriano, Anastasia Sokolova, Jennifer Watts and Heather Frank won the singles matches. For Frank, it was her third consecutive district title at No. 5 singles.

In the doubles matches, Dent and Watts teamed for a win at No. 1 and Soriano and Sokolova won at No. 2. -- BOB PUTNAM

2A-5: Panthers avert upset bids

LECANTO -- There were few surprises as Lecanto added to its perfect season by winning its fifth consecutive title.

If there was any surprise, it was the closeness of the Panthers' victory.

After posting its third consecutive unbeaten season, Lecanto walked away with only a one-point win after solid showings from Dunnellon and runner-up Citrus.

The Tigers won titles at No. 1 and No. 2 singles behind sisters Jenny and Michelle Hernandez, who teamed up for a straight-sets win over Lecanto's Jessie Roberts and Mujiba Ansari at No. 1 doubles.

However, the Panthers' depth carried them. Freshmen Nisha Shah and Ashley Campbell posted straight-sets victories at No. 4 and No. 5 singles that, combined with first-round wins on Monday, gave Lecanto an unsurmountable lead entering the doubles finals.

"It's great we won," Lecanto coach Joan Roberts said. "But we knew this would be tough."

Citrus came up one point short but won two of the seven titles. Lindsay Horne posted a straight-sets victory over Lecanto's Jennifer Rimes at No. 3 singles then teamed up with Andrea Hanson for a 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, 6-2 win over Rimes and Campbell at No. 2 doubles.- CAREY FREEMAN

A-9: Saddlebrook wins title handily

TAMPA -- With Saddlebrook's Kelly McCain competing in the Easter Bowl in Palm Springs, Calif., last season, Tampa Prep's Saras Arasu took advantage to win district and state singles titles. Back in town for this year's district tournament, McCain prevented Arasu from defending either title.

McCain, a Duke recruit and the USTA's top-ranked player in girls 18s last season, defeated Arasu 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 singles to lead Saddlebrook to the title at Berkeley Prep's E.C. Smith Tennis Complex.

"I've never seen anyone beat Arasu that handily," Berkeley Prep coach John Newman said.

Saddlebrook went undefeated in the two-day, four-team tournament to finish with 14 points. Second-place Tampa Prep had 7 points. Neither Berkeley Prep nor Seminole Presbyterian managed a point.

Saddlebrook's Emily Sechaud (No. 2), Diana Vinis (No. 3), Ashley Cox (No. 4) and Marissa Simmons (No. 5) also won singles championships. The teams of McCain and Sechaud (No. 1) and Cox and Vinis (No. 2) claimed doubles titles.

Saddlebrook hosts Canterbury in a regional match Friday.- FRANK PASTOR

Youthful Tornadoes edge Warhawks

CLEARWATER -- Despite fielding a team with just one senior, Clearwater sure appeared like a veteran squad Tuesday.

The Tornadoes came into the Class 3A, District 10 finals tied with Seminole, but won four of five matches to claim the title by six points over the Warhawks.

Sunita Goel, a freshman, and Michelle Everett, the lone senior, sealed the victory with wins over Seminole's Kaitlyn Kiernan and Alison Morse in singles.

The Tornadoes will face host Countryside in Friday's regionals.

Boca Ciega senior Tiffanie Kalvoda advanced in No. 1 singles and doubles (with Heather Rothrock), persevering through an injury suffered near the end of the first set in the morning singles.

As Seminole's Desiree Collins came to the net for a high volley and missed, Kalvoda tried to stop her forward momentum and rolled her ankle. She requested a three-minute injury timeout, donned a high-ankle brace from a teammate and went on to win.

"I said, "I'm not going to have this stop me, it's my senior year and I'm going to states,"' said Kalvoda, who will be playing in her fourth state tournament. -- JOHN SCHWARB

2A-10: Lakewood defends its title

ST. PETERSBURG -- Lakewood used its depth to capture a second consecutive championship Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center. The Spartans advanced all five singles players and a doubles team to the final round. Lakewood edged Dunedin 14-11 in the two-day tournament to earn a spot in Friday's regional match at the winner of the 2A-9 tournament.

The Spartans racked up points in the first two rounds and then benefitted from individual championships from Cori Sundstrom at No. 2 and Katie Zaleski at No. 3. Summer Potts, Jenny Borshell and Kaela Kennedy also advanced to singles finals but lost.

Dunedin's Erin Heeder defeated Kennedy in No. 1 singles 6-3, 6-2 to earn a spot at the state tournament. Heeder also teamed with Rachel Hutchins to defeat Kennedy and Zaleski in No. 1 doubles. -- RODNEY PAGE

A-10: Four wins propel Canterbury

ST. PETERSBURG -- It looked routine Tuesday for Kelly Nelson at the Racquet Club of St. Petersburg. The Shorecrest junior won her third consecutive district title in straight sets.

Actually, it was the culmination of a frantic few days.

Nelson competed in the prestigious Easter Bowl Tournament in Palm Springs, Calif., last weekend. The 16-year-old played in the 18-and-under division, reaching the second round in doubles and the third round in singles. She barely made it home in time for districts.

"She almost missed her flight (Monday) night," said Carol Nelson, Kelly's mother. "She didn't get in until about midnight."

But Nelson, the state runner-up a year ago, had enough in her tank to dispatch Canterbury's Natalie Tirapelli at No. 1 singles, 6-3, 6-1 and advance to next week's state tournament.

The Canterbury girls won four finals to capture the team competition ahead of Indian Rocks Christian, 15-11.

Michelle Murman at No. 2 and Jenna Ruth at No. 3 won individual titles while Murman and Tirapelli combined to win No. 1 doubles. Ruth and Samantha Sadler teamed up to win No. 2. -- PETE YOUNG

4A-5: Hurricanes outlast Cowboys

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Palm Harbor U. and Gaither owned the courts Tuesday, placing six players in the finals and leaving just two spots for the district's other three teams. Palm Harbor won four matches to Gaither's three to win the district title 18-15.

Gaither did leave with wins in No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, earning state berths for Brianna Williams and Liz Rodgers.

Williams beat Palm Harbor's Sarah Buchanan 6-3, 6-1 to win the singles crown. Williams then combined with Rodgers to beat Buchanan and Huldah Dayton 6-3, 6-3.

Rodgers also beat Dayton to win in No. 2 singles.

Palm Harbor dominated in the lower singles brackets. Sara Fida, McKenzie Gerlach and Anjali Shetty won third, fourth and fifth singles.

Sickles' Kori Crollard fell in the No. 5 singles final but earned Sickles a third-place finish.- WAYNE GRUMET

Freshmen lead King to crown

TAMPA -- It took two days and more than 15 hours, but a Class 3A, District 11 champion was finally crowned Tuesday afternoon.

King won the title 15-13 over Wharton in the tournament's final match when freshmen Linda Tien and Jen Fiorica defeated Jennifer Comegys and Carrie Leitch 6-2, 6-4.

A Tien-Fiorica loss would have meant more tennis on Wednesday with a dual match between King and Wharton to determine the district champion.

"We felt confident coming into this final match," said Fiorica, who played two three-set matches on Monday before playing against Wharton in the No. 1 doubles final. "We really didn't feel any pressure because we're freshmen. I think the other schools feel pressure because they're thinking they don't want to lose to a couple of freshmen."

Tien also captured the No. 1 singles title by defeating Plant's Paula Fillion 6-1, 6-2.

King, which completed the regular season with the county's only undefeated record (12-0), will now host Friday's regional match at Whiteway Courts against Plant City. -- SCOTT PURKS

3A-12: Plant City wins first title

TAMPA -- The Plant City girls did something Tuesday afternoon they'd never done before -- loaded up their van after the tournament and took away the championship trophy.

The Raiders cruised through the singles matches, winning four of five to clinch the first district tennis title in school history, beating East Bay 19-9.

"Obviously, I'm elated," Plant City coach Gary Brady said. "Going into the year we thought we had a shot but you still have to play the matches. Today was more than I ever hoped for."

Brady's girls missed the singles sweep only because Armwood's Paula Bryant defeated Katie Crandall at No. 5 singles.

Raiders No. 1 singles player Christina Genualdi is assured of a trip to next week's state tournament at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs after winning her final 6-3, 6-0 over East Bay's Nakaela Hales. Genualdi, a sophomore, is only the second Raider girls player to advance to state.

The Indians' No. 1 doubles team of Lacey Garbelman and Hales also earned a spot in the state tournament, winning the final 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 over Genualdi and Kerry Garner. The rest of the Raiders will play King at the Whiteway Courts on Friday for the right to go to state. -- MIKE READLING

2A-9: Tampa Catholic edges AHN

At Greenlefe Resort in Haines City, Tampa Catholic won the title 18-17 over Academy of the Holy Names. The teams met in every singles and doubles final with the Crusaders winning four of the seven matches.

Tampa Catholic's Brenda Peynado won a pivotal 31/2-hour No. 5 match 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 over Erica Acosta, and teammate Miranda Gutierrez repeated as No. 1 champion.

The Crusaders will host Lakewood in a regional match Friday.- TIMES STAFF

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